Marcin Wasilewski Trio
Marcin Wasilewski piano
Slawomir Kurkiewicz double bass
Michal Miskiewicz drums
Recorded live August 12, 2016
at Jazz Middelheim, Antwerp
by VRT-Vlaamse Radio en Televisie
Engineers: Walter De Niel and Johan Favoreel
Mastering: Christoph Stickel
Album produced by Manfred Eicher
Release date: September 14, 2018
When pianist Marcin Wasilewski, bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz, and drummer Michal Miskiewicz stepped out onto Antwerp’s Jazz Middelheim stage on August 12, 2016, little did they know their performance was being recorded. Yet what a gift for those of us who couldn’t be there to experience the outgoing energy, ingoing consideration, and philosophical circuits thereof conducting electricity around this joyous music. Appropriate, then, that “Spark Of Life” should open the set with its expansive reasoning. The patience and willingness afforded by a live setting to let these tunes breathe (most exceed ten minutes) is unabashedly explored here, especially as the band phases into the inviting “Sudovian Dance.” In such a transition, one can hear exactly what makes this outfit click. In addition to the powerful arc of Wasilewski’s artistry, we find Kurkiewicz and Miskiewicz attending to every architectural support with the attention of historical preservationists. As the first in a handful of Wasilewski originals, this dyad opens the door into a hallway of many mirrors, each of which offers a different shade of self-regard. We might therefore read “Three Reflections” as being as much about ourselves as about the thoughts of an unnamed other, whose distant experiences and desires detect us telepathically. In light of this four-dimensional turn, the linear journey of “Night Train To You” comes across with urgency. As one of the bandleader’s most masterful compositions, it’s primed to unfold grand wings in this freer setting. Wasilewski transforms the keyboard into an emotional express track, connecting heart to beating heart without looking back. And as the tender strains of “Austin” caress the ear, we know we’ve found a home away from home in the arms of someone whose only happiness is to ensure our own.
Along the way, Sting’s “Message In A Bottle” gets an uplifting treatment. The rocking bass line in Wasilewski’s left hand is satisfying to the nth degree, acting as a springboard for far-reaching improvisational gestures. Kurkiewicz basses like a storyteller who just can’t wait to share the ending with an eager audience, while Miskiewicz ensures that every punctuation mark holds integrity as a monument to inflection. And what an eager audience he must have, as the applause and cheers ride a wave of wonder superseded perhaps only by the musicians’ own.
Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” finishes with a tactile ride through rain-slicked streets and melodic due process. Every move feels as calculated as it does free: an enchanting dichotomy that lures us into every twist and turn until, like any great mystery, it falls into place in retrospect and gives us the pleasure of tracing our memories back to the start, where we can listen with fresh ears even before that final chord is struck with astonishing certainty.